In many ways the challenges and opportunities facing the tech ecosystem in Central Oregon mirror the tech sectors of Portland, Seattle, or any other large metropolitan area on the West Coast. As a result, many of the areas of focus identified by the TAO-Central Oregon advisory board will probably sound familiar. These are: strengthening the voice of Central Oregon’s tech community in Salem and in local government, talent development, industry promotion, and addressing issues impacting the business environment such as workforce housing and transportation.
As part of TAO, the Central Oregon operation and companies within that region will be connected to TAO’s statewide advocacy network and will benefit from opportunities to share perspectives, educate and inform policymakers, and access resources to stay informed of the latest issues impacting the State’s tech industry. Over the next few months, TAO-Central Oregon will be hosting company tours and policy roundtables with local tech companies and local and state elected officials.
In terms of talent development, Central Oregon is fortunate to have Central Oregon Community College and OSU-Cascades. TAO-Central Oregon will work to increase involvement of the tech industry to improve the overall quality of programs at these institutions and provide ways to connect students to local companies. Aligning the K-12 system and the STEM hub run by the High Desert Education Service District with higher education institutions is another talent development priority of TAO-Central Oregon.
With regard to industry promotion, tech companies in the region have many competitive advantages including an exceptionally high quality of life for employees, a highly-collaborative and entrepreneurial business environment, and access to a very successful and well-connected pool of retired entrepreneurs for purposes of mentoring new startup talent. These factors have resulted in a very strong technology sector for a community the size of Bend. Promoting and marketing these strengths in Central Oregon and other areas will help local companies attract talent and expand the size and scale of the local tech ecosystem and the companies within it. To kick things off, on September 8th TAO-Central Oregon will organize the first-ever Tech Crawl in Bend to showcase local tech companies to current and aspiring tech talent and entrepreneurs.
Finally, housing, transportation, and cost of living are high priorities for Bend companies. Affordable housing is currently affecting the ability of local companies to attract and retain talent. While Central Oregon is not unique in facing this challenge, the scale of the issue relative to the size of the community means viable solutions to these challenges are not out of reach. TAO-Central Oregon will help facilitate opportunities to keep these issues front-and-center for local policymakers and contribute to discussions about the best solutions.
TAO-Central Oregon has a local advisory board comprised of the following executives:
Preston Calicott, CEO – Five Talent Software, Inc.
Lisa Dzubay, Vice President Commercial Development – Grace Bio-Labs
Yannick Fluhmann, Co-Founder and VP of Sales – TechSoft 3D
Rita Hansen, CEO – Onboard Dynamics, Inc.
Lewis Howell, Founder and CEO – HUEYA
Maggie Hubble, President and COO – Agency Revolution
Bill Moseley, CEO – GL Solutions
Dan Vetras, CEO – Kollective
John Warta, Chairman – Cascade Divide
We would not have been able to open this new office without important partners such as Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), East Cascades Workforce Investment Board (ECWIB), High Desert Education Service District (HDESD), COCC, and OSU-Cascades. We look forward to continuing to work with these partners as we move forward to refine and implement the components of a strategic plan.